Advent 1 – Wait (Isaiah 64)

I wait with the text.

I hear the heart of the writer crying out for change, mountains quaking, heavens tearing, like fire bringing water to a boil,the kind of change that would force attention toward God’s presence.

I hear lament for a time when God’s presence demonstrated dramatic action, and despair that without it attention turned elsewhere.

I hear fear that God’s presence is hidden, or dormant, or worse, gone forever.

I hear nostalgia for the beautiful good old days that now lie in ruins.

I wait with the text.

I, too, have experienced Isaiah’s hope – that God’s presence would be revealed in dramatic fashion leaving no doubt of the way to go, or the decision to make, or what to stand for. I have known longing for the faith of generations past. I have known despair that we are too busy to glimpse God’s presence in our midst.

I hear a still small voice that whispers, ‘keep waiting’.

From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways.(v.4-5a)

It’s these middle verses that resonate with me most. It seems to me that God’s presence is more often found in the rhythm of contemplation and action than in dramatic revelation. Of waiting and doing right. This is the age-old way of the mystics – to devote oneself to waiting on God through prayer and attention while at the same time doing what is right. In this season of Advent when the world is rushing around us refusing contentment, perhaps we can hear the still, small voice inviting us to do what is right while holding a waiting place of hope within.

It’s a variation of Keep Calm and Carry On, but gladly.

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